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Are They Liars? Well...

A WorldNetDaily columnist begs the question. We answer it.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 7/3/2000

Jon E. Dougherty is a little miffed.

Criticism of his employer, WorldNetDaily, didn't sit very well, and now he's demanding an apology.

Office.com wrote a generally positive article about WorldNetDaily, its mission in the view of its founder, Joseph Farah, to put "good old-fashioned skepicism back into news reporting" and the site's high rankings in "stickiness," how much time a reader spends on the site. WorldNetDaily thought enough of the article to post a link to it on its front page for a day.

But the story also notes some opposite views, and that's what is not sitting well with Dougherty. Specifically, the story cites media critic Norman Solomon as saying he "wouldn't stake my life on the veracity of any of" the stories on WorldNetDaily.

"Solomon called all of us liars," Dougherty fumes in his June 17 column. "It is precisely this kind of moronic and sophomoric assessment of something genuine and genuinely good that deprives the American people of truth and honesty in the media -- not the other way around. (Italics his.) Guys like Solomon are impediments to truthful and honest reporting, not the arbiters or guarantors of it." Dougherty then goes on to assert that WorldNetDaily "is a top-notch, professional and honest purveyor of news and information." (Italics his.)

Then Dougherty asks the big question: "I'd like to know what this 'media critic' thinks we've lied about?"

Glad you asked, Jon. ConWebWatch has been watching WorldNetDaily for nearly three months now, and we've found a few examples of questionable journalism that put the lie to the claim that WorldNetDaily is "top-notch, professional and honest."

Let's start with Dougherty's own reporting. In his story on Tony Moser, the Arkansas newspaper columnist who died recently, Dougherty does his best to lobby for a place on the Clinton "death list" for Moser by highlighting the circumstances surrounding his death. But he fails to note Moser's alcoholism, which by all other accounts was the leading factor in his being struck by a pickup truck in the middle of a dark street. Dougherty fails to tell the complete story and comes to a false conclusion, thereby failing his own standard of being "honest," a standard he apparently thinks so highly of he puts it in italics.

ConWebWatch has also noted that WorldNetDaily ran a story on a complaint filed against Hillary Rodham Clinton with the Arkansas Supreme Court's Committee on Professional Conduct -- but ran nothing when the complaint was dismissed. WorldNetDaily has also refused to run stories on other positive news regarding the Clintons and their associates.

Additionally, ConWebWatch has documented the factual holes and one-sided reporting in WorldNetDaily's coverage of the proceedings of President Clinton's possible disbarment, including the ties of the group pushing the action to Richard Mellon Scaife, the Scrooge McDuck of the conservative movement.

Dougherty also pounces on Solomon's statement that "the myth is we have these independent Web sites that come out of nowhere, but they really have tremendous economic backing." Dougherty mentions other sites "that had 'tremendous economic backing' but are now broke and on the verge of shutting down. 'Cause he sure as hell isn't talking about WND or The Drudge Report." Interesting that Dougherty considers a site known mainly for spreading gossip and currently in litigation for libel as an equal of "top-notch, professional and honest" WorldNetDaily.

Perhaps Solomon was referring to the conservative money trail that always seems to lead to Scaife. Joseph Farah is the link to Scaife here; he worked for Scaife as an editor of the now-defunct Sacramento Union newspaper (Update: Farah started work for the Union after Scaife sold the paper; read more here), and the Western Journalism Center, a group Farah founded and under whose wing WorldNetDaily began life, received a $330,000 donation from Scaife in 1995.

And ConWebWatch does not claim the above examples to be comprehensive, merely instances documented over a short period of time. It is more than likely that other instances of journalism practices like the above exist on WorldNetDaily.

Dougherty wants Solomon to issue an apology "for calling me and my colleagues liars."

No need to apologize, Mr. Solomon. You hit the nail on the head.

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